Top End Tourers

Len Powe shares his adventures touring the Top End with Julie, from war history in Darwin through the landscapes of Kakadu, Litchfield and Nitmiluk National Parks.

Insight: 2017 Autumn Edition – Residential Property Market


The recent Insights Event Series “2017 Residential Market – A Developers Perspective” convened by The Urban Developer and hosted by Colliers was extremely well attended by a wide variety of Brisbane property identities. Disappointingly, the expert panel comments were less about the developers perspective and more about agency opinion and an interpretation of the number of hits on projects on the Real web site. Fortunately; the always impressive Alex Levy from Mirvac was able to provide some actual real world insight to the discussion and confirmed that the right projects in the right locations will always be well received by an educated market. We were also reminded by Brendan Tutt from the Tessa Group, that Queensland has a history of over building and this has been unprecedented over the last 2-3 years. This “overheated” market for (small investor) units has gone off the boil in a spectacular fashion, as we always expected it would, and it was suggested that we have returned to a “normal” level of sales. This has benefit for the rental market by providing a wide range of choice at competitive and negotiable rents with lease incentives. We were told that 90% of the rental market in the Valley area is under 30 years old and, while the rents are dropping, there is no letup in demand for new apartments. This has had an effect on vacancy rates for apartments growing in the secondary rental market despite this stock usually offering larger unit sizes. Interestingly, the “middle ring” townhouse market in Brisbane is very strong and this is primarily being driven by Sydney buyers looking for non-apartment options. This strong market is also evident in the smaller suburban projects where well-designed apartment developments close to transport, shops, restaurants and with good parking are being preferred to the high rise “future slums” of the city fringe. Already, we are seeing astute developers in areas such as Teneriffe and Hamilton going “back to the future” and offering larger apartments with generous balconies and appropriate car parking and storage to a grateful owner occupier market with a pent up demand. Missing from the discussion was any real comment on the market outside Brisbane, except to state the obvious about the effects of the downturn in the mining industry, and the increasing growth in the over 50’s and “empty nesters” residential market (can we please come up with better terms than “downsizing” and “early retirement living” for this demographic?).

In August 2014, Len Powe examined the impact that marketing driven perception was having on the price sensitive world of apartment design. To revisit these prophetic thoughts please go to:

Insight by Len Powe – Director POWE Architects
Read more about Len

Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of POWE Architects.


With the 2016 federal election (finally) just around the corner, all Australian businesses, and especially small businesses, are looking for economic certainty and stability in our federal government so that the growth we have all experienced over the last 12 months can continue into the new financial year and, hopefully, for the next three years. It is important for our clients, their projects and the economy that we maintain the status quo in Canberra and also install an Upper house that works with the elected government in the best interests of all Australians. Small business growth is essential for our economy and increasing small business employment is the policy objective for all of the major (and minor) political parties, but this will only be possible, irrespective of the election outcome, with good government, stability and certainty for the business community. Reducing the company tax rate for businesses with an income of under $10Million is a good start. It is more important, however, to create the income first by providing incentives and planning controls for the property development industry that promote investment and consumer confidence. It is interesting that our firm has not experienced the general slowing of decision making amongst our clients normally experienced during the lead up to an election. The belief is that this only occurs when there is a need or expectation for change and we are not feeling that mood swing this time.

An unexpected, but late, factor in this election is the uncertain impact that Britain’s exit from the European Union will have on Australian business over the period that it will take Britain to invoke Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon and extricate itself from the EU. At a minimum it will take two years and no-one has obviously given any real thought to the impact that this exit will have on any of us. The younger demographic in Britain is particularly unhappy with the result. The biggest issue is how trade will be handled between the EU and the rest of the world during this time. It is hard to see, once we recover from the initial shock of this decision, how this referendum result could affect our clients or their Australian projects particularly while interest rates stay so (unnaturally) low. This is a time when “think global and act local” is relevant to more than just the environmental cause and we should look at what we can do as an industry to maintain our growth and confidence and not worry so much about things over which we have little control in a country far, far away.

By Len Powe – Director POWE Architects
Read more about Len




Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of POWE Architects

Coming up sunny on the Sunny Coast

There must be something in the water north of Brisbane. An increasing number of our clients are looking to the Sunshine Coast for development opportunities and finding a lot to like. POWE Architects has been designing changes to the commercial landscape from Beerwah to Noosaville and there seems no immediate end in sight. Undoubtedly, a lot of the development growth north of Brisbane is happening as a result of the construction and employment associated with the new Sunshine Coast University Hospital precinct, the expansion of the Sunshine Coast airport, the Council’s revitalisation of the Maroochydore Town Centre and Caloundra CBD and commitment from Stockland to the AURA project at Caloundra South.

Beerwah Village Shopping Centre – Completed 2014

This confidence in the Sunshine Coast market has also been supported by our clients with the expansion of the Woolworths, IGA and Target anchored Beerwah Village shopping centre and the construction of a new Officeworks at Maroochydore.  Currently, construction is well progressed on Stage 1 of the Coles Sippy Downs project by Hutchinson Builders, on the POWE designed 4 storey, Kingsford Apartments at 57-59 Kingsford Smith Parade, Maroochydore ( and on a new service centre at Noosaville which includes 7-Eleven fuel, KFC, Jax Tyres and Repco. Public advertising closed recently for a new Woolworths based shopping centre at Buderim and we are currently working on the early design phases for a medical centre in Maroochydore.



Soon after his 60th birthday in early April, Len “crossed the ditch” with a group of friends to ride the “Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail”, a 301 kilometre journey from Mount Cook in the Southern Alps to Oamaru on the southeast coast. Over a period of six days (thankfully all in fine weather), this motley crew of seven mature aged riders took in the stunning scenery of Aoraki/Mt Cook, Lake Pukaki and Lake Ohau, experienced a spectacular helicopter transfer across the Tasman River and enjoyed the hospitality of several farm stays along the way. The nine section trail is described as ranging in grades from easy to intermediate, offering “…a pleasing mix of on and off road trails…” but it’s definitely not for beginners or the faint hearted. Anyone interested in the bike ride should visit The final day in Christchurch was spent taking in the earthquake museum, photographing the new building construction and lamenting the sad state of the cathedral which is still in ruins after 5 years. Several court appeals against its demolition have delayed redevelopment. Christchurch will continue to struggle until businesses are encouraged to return to the city after the reconstruction. Based on current evidence and progress (after over 5 years since the quake) , this looks like it could still take a while.

LP  A2O Powe (135)


COLES Alderley

coles alderley

POWE Architects is pleased to confirm that construction will commence in early 2016 on a state-of-the-art Coles supermarket and adjoining Liquorland in South Pine Road, Alderley. The new 4,000m2 market-style Coles supermarket will feature an open fresh produce section, continental delicatessen, in-store butcher and bakery and will also provide more than 200 convenient car parking spaces. POWE Architects has had a long association with this site and we look forward to assisting Coles with the delivery of this exciting project.

Project Talk

Redbank Plains

After over two years in the design, planning and approval phases, Town Square Redbank Plains will start on site next month. This 27,600m2 centre includes Coles, Target, Aldi and Woolworths, over 1,200 parking spaces, along with 80 specialty shops, restaurants, fast food drive thrus and other retail tenants. The project is to be constructed by FKG in one stage and should take 16 months to complete. Our other retail projects include Coles centres at Alderley, Sippy Downs and Yarrabilba with the Sippy Downs development likely to start on site later this year. In 2014, Len volunteered to be a member of the BCC Alderley SCIP Community Reference Group to assist with the briefing and co-ordination for the Coles Alderley redevelopment and the SCIP work is likely to occur concurrently with the Coles redevelopment. A recent Approval for Empirica Developments for a large service centre on a busy roundabout at Noosaville is also likely to start documentation soon for an early 2016 start on site. Another large service centre is also close to Development Approval on a prominent site at Molendinar for the same client. Finally, the construction of our Sayers @ Stafford apartment project is nearing completion. Maree Semple has been doing a great job as project architect.